Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Little Patience Goes A Long Way

Near the end of last summer, my gasoline-powered lawnmower stopped starting. I'd had it in the shop a month earlier, and by this second work stoppage, I'd had enough. I called it quits, buried the lawnmower beneath leaf bags at the back of my garage, and returned to my human-powered push mower.

This spring, I've mowed my lawn several times, each time with the push mower. I actually enjoy this process more--it's just that my lawn doesn't end up looking as uniformly buzz cut even though pushing that human-powered contraption takes triple the time. And so today, as I find my time crunched by all the expectations of an English teacher in May, I decided it was time to give the gasoline-powered mower another shot, just for the heck of it. At first, it wouldn't work. I yanked on the cord again and again. Nothing doing. I wasn't ready to give up this morning, however. I poured in a little gas. Three times I pushed the little red button which sends the gasoline to the igniter. Still nothing. I returned to the little red button and pushed it ten more times. I yanked on the cord and . . . the engine roared to life. Mowing my lawn this morning took a third of the time.

Now why do I bring this up?

It reminds me of how writing seems to always work. I get stuck on draft and the more frustrated I get with it, the less likely it is I'll figure out where story or poem or essay goes next. So I move on to something else--something with which I do have some writing momentum--and often later (even a year later!), something inspires me to get back to the first piece and I suddenly am able to look at it with new eyes. My advice, then? Don't be afraid, in your writing, to use a different lawnmower for a while. Eventually you'll be ready to give the first one another shot.

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